Sunday, September 1, 2013

Warriors of the Deep - "There should have been another way."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Warriors of the Deep - Details

Season 21, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #131) | Previous - Next | Index

Ingrid Pitt going to kung-fu the sh!t out of a pantomime horse.
Widely reviled and, personally, utterly forgotten save for one detail ("Why do their heads light up when they talk? So we can tell which one is speaking?" I remember wondering), this story poses a challenge to the viewer: is it really as bad as everyone says it is?  First, let's see exactly how bad everyone, in fact, says it is.
Sandifer:
"Warriors of the Deep: Correctly investigated for being unfit for transmission. There’s a school of thought that says this could have worked with better effects, but there’s a school of thought that thinks climate change isn’t real too, so really, who cares about that? Absolutely nothing about this story comes even remotely close to working. A misconceived disaster, and yet another example of John Nathan-Turner having no sense that maybe you should avoid putting a complete piece of crap out as a season premiere (See also the premieres of Seasons 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26.) ... 1/10"
Sue:
"The Myrka menaces the Doctor and Tegan.
Sue: What’s it waiting for? Is it having a little dance?
The Doctor throws an ammunition magazine at the Myrka and the blast disorientates the beast.
Tegan: It’s blinded!
Sue: They should have blinded the audience. That would have been more merciful."
Wood/Miles (About Time, Vol. 5):
" ... [T]his is a story in which nobody [involved in the production] is communicating with anyone else and everyone's run out of ideas anyway. The result is a production that's off-the-case in almost every way, from the steaming great cock-ups (Myrka) to the small details ... The performances are among the worst in the series' history, with nobody except Davison sounding as if they understand why they're here at all."
So, pretty bad. Sure, there are some tepid defenders out there, mostly pointing to the script being not all that bad and the high level concept as having potential. I'm pretty sure the best way to watch this one will be drunk off the rails. So, while the DVD warns me about the evils of piracy and shows the usual previews, I'm throwing back a couple shots and pouring myself a giant, high-octane glass of cold adult beverage.

That done, let me get this off my chest: don't let her fighting the Myrka be how you remember the late, great Ingrid Pitt. Google her if you don't know what I'm talking about. She's got an interesting bit of career overlap with Kate ("The Rani") O'Mara out there in the early 1970s. (Hint: it involves Hammer Studios, not -- as I'm sure you could've deduced from the GIF at the top of this post -- Shaw Bros.)

The samurai helmets on the Sea Devils would have looked better if they could've
figured out how to keep their heads from tipping side to side erratically.
For all the bellyaching about this one, I don't think it's all that bad. Look, it's not good and, yes, there's some embarrassing stuff going on here, but if I were in a sparring mood I'd say anyone who grades "Dragonfire" out higher than this is either a fool or has a hidden agenda. (Which, upon writing, I find myself distractedly wondering if Nowhere Man is on Prime or otherwise legally available to watch online ... ) The unis worn by the sea base crew look like they were looted from the dumpster behind the studio where a Michael Jackson video was shot, and the makeup looks like something a 5-year-old would do to herself after sneaking into mommy's makeup bag; but, it's not like it's that much worse than other 80s era stories. This story takes a lot of heat for cocking up the Silurians and Sea Devils, which it does, but if you're going to bang it for the costumes coming apart at the seams and not being tucked in properly, then you've got  to admit the Pertwee era stories had the same problems. The thing that actually irritated me more than that stuff, which I'm pretty much inured to at this point, was the jokey bit where the Doctor and Turlough try and fail to slide a door open, only to have Tegan come in behind them and slide it the other way.

Let's get to it, shall we Turlough?


It could have been a funny moment if the set design had made it even slightly ambiguous which way the door opened, but it wasn't at all unclear, so all it did was make the Doctor and Turlough look like complete idiots.

Never, in the history of TV, has the interior of an underwater sea base looked less like the interior of an underwater sea base, but it looked more like an underwater sea base than the CSO caves in "Underworld" looked like caves. The Myrka was every bit the disaster they all say it was, but so was the giant rat in "Talons". Now, both those stories had other things going for them, that this one doesn't; but, I felt like the participants in this one were trying, doing the best they could under the circumstances. The stories that piss me off are the ones where not only does everything looked shoddy, but there's active contempt for the viewer combined with unbearable pretensions -- again, I'm going to pile on "Dragonfire" because that's the one that sticks in mind as being unforgivably awful.

Would I try to defend this one if I were stone sober? Maybe not so much, but when it was unintentionally funny (which it does better than it does 'intentionally funny') it was entertaining. So it can at least be entertaining to a drunk person. There are stories about which that can't be said.


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